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What program do you use to create your artwork?
Over the years I've used Photoshop CS3/CS5 & and most recently Photoshop CC with my WACOM Intuos Pro (formerly WACOM intuos3 tablet). A lot of my work is pencil illustrations and sketches from my sketchbook scanned into the computer (at 600 dpi) and then painted in Photoshop digitally - other times it's purely Photoshop painting. To see more about my process check out my Youtube Channel.
How long have you been drawing?
Pretty much as long as I can remember - since I could hold a pencil! I've been working in Photoshop since mid high school (2007), and working professionally through small freelance jobs here and there ever since mid university in 2010. I started doing conventions in 2013, and have been busy creating my own projects and exhibiting around Australia ever since.
Did you get any special art education?
Yes, growing up in Perth, Western Australia I attended Applecross Senior High School. A special art school with an art program which meant I went to school on Saturday mornings to study traditional painting, sculpture, screen printing and more. I illustrated my own Shaun of the Dead style comic and made puppets and did a lot of hands on stuff that really inspired me creatively, and I should do more of it these days! Really just touched on a lot of different things but if you're interested you can see more of them in my Scraps section here.
After that I went to university, and graduated Curtin University of Technology with a Bachelor of Arts (Design): Major in Illustration. University was interesting in that it taught me a lot of things all together, starting with the most general courses (Photography, Art History, Branding, Typography etc.) and then I got to specialize later on in my course. I still had to do a lot of things I didn't really care for - such as logo design, typography and art essays - but it also taught me a lot about my workflow, how to structure an email (from writing essays) and I made a lot of my most popular illustrations through there, as well as the first volume of my project Execution. So it was a bit of a give and take. I do wish I had taken more business courses in university and taken it a bit more seriously - or had them included in my course, as although it taught me about illustration and projects, it didn't touch too much on the business side of being a freelancer, and a lot of projects that I did I didn't have much motivation for as they weren't what I wanted to do.
I've probably learnt just as much in the years following university through online podcasts, tutorials and articles as I did at the 3 years I spent at university. You've got to remember that your education doesn't end with school or university - you keep learning as you go. There's no magical step where you graduate and now you're a pro - you've got to think about it as every day you could be getting better at your craft and if you're not, someone else might be beating you to it. I watch a lot of online tutorials and Gumroad tutorials through the web, if you check out my deviantART profile under the "Inspirations and Influences" part (also below), or go to my YouTube "Great Art Channels" section you'll see a lot of the independent artists who release really useful content on the web for artist's to learn from. I've also tried online art classes and do a lot of drawing studies and life studies when I can, experimenting with different mediums and trying to practise my gestures, speed and lines. Studying art and design is something you should continue to do throughout your whole life/career - it's the only way you're going to get better. Definitely check out Quickposes.com for a great way to practise your gesture drawing!
Where do you get your inspiration/ideas from?
Pretty much everywhere. Everything is an inspiration and influence in some way - nature, music, friends, games, films, other artist's, pop culture. The list is endless! Art has always been a way for me to express myself - and also a real theraputic way to get the "demons" out. If I'm feeling annoyed or down or depressed I find it's usually also a day in which I haven't drawn anything in a while. I listen to a lot of remix electronica music like Pogo, but also alternative metal bands like Tool - music can be a huge influence. Video games and film are also a big influence, check out the "Interests" section to see more. I was a big fan of old games like Skullmonkeys, Crash Bandicoot, Spyro, Warcraft III, Diablo, DOOM 3, F.E.A.R. and of course Dead Space, amongst others which I think have all influenced my art style.
As a kid I think a huge inspiration on me was the protagonists of the film Small Soldiers. Amongst things like Looney Tunes and Saturday morning cartoons - The Gorgonites were the monsters and creatures - but instead of having them as the villains they were a friendly and diverse bunch of character and creature designs that really struck home with me. Connecting with the "villains" and outcasts has just always been way more fun to me than the "hero" of the story. I watched the film countless times - drawing the characters over and over until I got them right. Huge inspiration to me as a kid! I also think movies like Shaun of the Dead, which was one of the first horror movies I saw back in the day - really influenced my enjoyment of the juxtaposition of comedy and horror - which is notable in a lot of my pieces.
Who are your favourite artists?
I've got a section on my main deviantART page with a whole collection of inspirations and influences which you can check out, on YouTube you can also see my "Great Art Channels" for a bunch of channels I'd recommend to check out too. I also share some on Facebook from time to time.
Do you sell prints online?
If you're interested in signed prints, I keep a number of them at home as I have a lot of conventions to attend around Australia - so the best bet would be to email me at firstname.lastname@example.org and we can arrange the payment transfer + shipping costs so I can personally send them out to you.
If you're after prints you can also check out my INPRNT store - where I'll get the best deal out of you buying my artwork online, otherwise for other products, such as tote bags, t-shirts, phone cases (or more prints) check out my Society6 or Redbubble Stores.
If you're after original artwork or sketchbooks, be sure to also email me and we can negotiate on the price.
If you're after original artwork or sketchbooks, be sure to also email me and we can negotiate on the price.
How do I get better at drawing and using Photoshop?
I'd really recommend doing a lot of traditional sketching and practise - you need a strong understanding of the fundamentals to be able to create illustrations and artwork, and Photoshop is just one tool to get you there. If you don't have the skills down first it's going to be a lot harder to learn. Don't try and focus on the brushes that you use or the Photoshop tools as a way to get better - at the end of the day if you don't have the fundamental experience and brain for it, which is built up from trial and error and a tonne of hard work and practise, it won't matter what brushes you use as you won't have anything to do with them. Does that make sense? Try to think of it as Photoshop is just another tool like a pencil on paper or paint on canvas. It's way easier to take your art abilities and learn how to transition them into Photoshop after you've learned them, than it is trying to master art + learn a computer program like Photoshop at the same time.
Get a sketch book and fill it up as soon as you can, then do another one! Draw from imagination, study from life and do a lot of life drawing and gesture drawing. I'd recommend having a look round for local classes - as this is a great way to force yourself into practise and the best way to learn. Besides that, you can also use websites like artists.pixelovely.com/ and www.quickposes.com/ to get better from home. Try to draw at least one page every single day. You can also do this in Photoshop if you like, but I'd really recommend getting a strong drawing ability traditionally before trying to get your head round the program. It's something you have to continuously work at, just keep on going. Try new mediums too - charcoal, paint, sculpture with clay - get your hands dirty. Experimenting with different mediums can really help your understanding, and once you go back to another medium you'll find you've learnt a lot more by looking at it from another perspective.
What brushes do you use?
When trying to find good brushes to use for Photoshop or an online program - always remember that a different brush won't dictate how well you're going to paint and draw. People use different brushes for speed and to shortcut details really, so just try to focus on getting your images really good at first and don't worry about how long they take - you can always get faster in time. It's better to learn the hard way so to speak, and spend a long time painting and THEN progress to getting quicker - instead of trying to nail images fast at the start, as then you won't learn as much.
Saying all that, there are a lot of great free brushes on the web. I'll be trying to put up the brushes that I use soon, which is a combination from different artist's brushes around the web. Brushes from Dan Luvisi, Mr. Jack, Anthony Jones and more. I'd reccomend getting Dan Luvisi's (danluvisiart.deviantart.com/ar…) as a starting point, but a simple google search will let you find many more. Check out the Digital Brushes tumblr (digitalbrushes.tumblr.com/) to see a whole bunch of free download packs.
Cheers guys and thanks so much for liking messed up monsters as much as I do! Also really appreciate all the comments and favourites, I'm sorry that I don't have time to respond to them all but they do all get read! Thanks guys, all the best and I really appreciate all the support.
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All Artwork © Austen Mengler - www.austenmengler.com
Finished, Not Perfect + Art Update
Hey guys, so firstly here's a bunch of shows I'll be at this month coming up real soon! - This weekend (3-4th September) is Evolve Pop Culture Fair where I'll be doing another creature design live demo on the Saturday from 2-3pm. - Then the weekend after that I'm heading to Sydney for Oz Comic-Con, I'll be at Booth 150 in the Artist's Alley. - And then after that I'm heading to Brisbane for the other Oz Comic-Con, I'll be at Booth 140 in the Artist's Alley. Should be another fun and exciting couple of weeks of shows, I'm currently still in the thick of organising everything and have a whole heap of art I need to work on getting out to you